Medical cannabis gets a lot of attention as a treatment for migraines and pain. Ironically, smoking cannabis can cause you to suffer from a weed headache.
In fact, Assyrian manuscripts from the second millennium recommended cannabis to “bind the temples,” according to Hemp For headache: An In-depth Historical and Scientific Review of Cannabis In Migraine Treatment. The prescription of cannabis was also practiced in ancient Greece. In North America, cannabis was used as a treatment for headaches throughout the 19th-century until its prohibition in 1937. John Russell Reynolds, the personal physician of Queen Victoria, was among the noted physicians to espouse the benefits of cannabis for headaches.
But we’ve all been there: you’re buzz is wearing off and a headache sets in. Why is this happening? Bad timing?
The weed headache or “weedache,” it turns out, is a thing.
But while there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence it happens – some experts theorize that they’re the early symptoms of the mythical “cannabis hangover” – what research is available on the subject suggests that outside factors are more often the culprit. In fact, any changes in brain activity can cause headaches.
Weed Headache Due to Dehydration
Many written sources claim that cannabis can cause dehydration, which is a leading cause of headaches. Anyone who has had cottonmouth could see the logic in this, but although cottonmouth feels a lot like dehydration, it’s localized in the mouth and isn’t itself a sign of dehydration.
Author and cannabis health writer Michelle Janikian surmises that “weed headaches are often just dehydration headaches that occur around the same time cannabis is consumed.”
Of course, the presence of smoke of any kind in your lungs could be a source of the headache. Whether it’s long drags on harsh joints, or massive bong rips, you’re filling your lungs with combusted material which can cause headaches. Simply smelling smoke, if you’re sensitive to it, can also cause headaches.
Stay Away from Street Weed
Also, weed bought off the street could contain any number of minor or major pesticides or contaminants, or it could just be too dried out causing a harsher smoke.
Common activities associated with smoking weed can also lead to headaches. A lot of processed food like bacon, hotdogs and lunch meats, for example, can expand blood vessels in your brain and lead to headaches. Bananas, beans, chocolate even citrus fruits and some varieties of nuts are known to trigger headaches in about 10 per cent of the population.
The same holds true if you’re out partying with friends, listening to loud music, and generally subjecting yourself to high levels of sensory stimulation.
How to Avoid the Weed Headache:
- Staying hydrated
- Follow the same lifestyle choices when you’re high as you do when you’re sober. Guzzling back Big Gulps of Dr. Pepper like it’s going out of style is not advisable.
- Most important is to consume the right weed. The best way to do that is to buy from a trusted source, a home grower or longtime dealer in whose supply you can have confidence.
Many medical cannabis patients choose strains that are higher in CBD, which can act as an anti-inflammatory, to combat migraines. So if you want to avoid headaches, you’re better off choosing strains with higher levels of CBD – or you could just smoke more to go to sleep.